Vol. LXIII, No. 8
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT: Princeton University womens hockey sophomore defenseman Sasha Sherry controls the puck in recent action. Last Friday, Sherry scored a goal to help Princeton blank Brown 3-0 and earn home ice for the upcoming ECAC Hockey playoffs. A night later, the Tigers topped Yale to end the regular season 18-9-2 overall and 15-6-1 in ECACH play, good for third place. The Tigers will host sixth place Rensselaer in a best-of-3 ECACH quarterfinal series beginning on February 27.
As it played last weekend to wrap up the regular season, the Princeton University womens hockey team had to come through on the road in order to earn home ice for the upcoming ECAC Hockey playoffs.
Needing a win or two ties on its swing to Brown and Yale to clinch a series at Baker Rink, the Tigers were determined to be road warriors.
I think since we have picked up after the holidays, the focus has been really good, said Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal, whose team had gone 9-2-1 in its 12 road games prior to Fridays contest at Brown. This weekend they knew they had something to accomplish.
In the matchup with the Bears, Princeton had the revenge factor to further pump it up. In late January, Princeton outshot Brown 43-12 but ended up with a frustrating 2-1 overtime loss.
In the early stages, though, the Tigers got an uncomfortable feeling of deja vu as they outshot the Bears 29-14 but were only ahead 1-0 courtesy of a goal by senior assistant captain Christine Foster.
This time it was Princeton that came up with the late heroics, breaking the game open with late goals by Heather Landry and Sasha Sherry while goalie Kristen Young made 21 saves in earning the shutout as the Tigers won 3-0.
In winning the battle of goalies with Browns Nicole Stock, Young earned the 14th shutout of her stellar career, setting a new program record.
I probably made a mistake in the first game, making too much about their goalie, acknowledged Kampersal.
We peppered her with shots and focused too much on her. This week, the focus was on ourselves. I knew Young was up for the challenge, she is such a competitor. She has had a phenomenal season since the Duluth games. With her goaltending, I am thinking we should change our name from the Tigers to the Kristen Youngs.
A night later, Princeton was up for the challenge against Yale. With the game knotted at 0-0 after two periods, the Tigers produced a four-goal explosion over the final 20 minutes to skate to a 4-1 win.
Foster triggered the barrage, scoring two goals in a 1:33 span to give Princeton a 2-0 lead it never relinquished. Melanie Wallace and Annie Greenwood tallied Princetons other goals.
Kampersal wasnt surprised that Foster came up with the critical goals. Christine has picked it up, said Kampersal of Foster who has 22 points to tie her with Wallace for the team lead. She has always been a solid player; she is a big help on the defensive end. This year she has been giving us a lot of scoring. She does a little bit of everything for us.
The wins over the weekend lifted Princeton to 18-9-2 overall and 15-6-1 in ECACH play, good for third as the Tigers passed Dartmouth last weekend. Princeton will now host sixth-place Rensselaer in a best-of-3 quarterfinal series beginning on February 27.
While Kampersal is happy to be at Baker Rink this weekend, he knows that being home doesnt guarantee success.
For us, it may be a matter of being careful what you ask for, said Kampersal.
We have been traveling the last two weekends in a row and staying at home is good so the kids can get their classes in line and get peace of mind on that end. On the other hand, they cant let distractions of school and friends get to them. We have a stellar record on the road this season and we are only average (7-7-1) at home.
The Tigers will have to be better than average to get past the Engineers with whom they split in the regular season, losing 3-2 to Rensselaer at Baker Rink in early December and then winning 3-1 in Troy, N.Y. on January 9.
I think we are similar teams; we both skate well, said Kampersal, whose team fell in the quarterfinals on the road the last two seasons.
We have beaten teams with Young and by being a better skating team. Rensselaer is one of the better skating teams. They get on you fast and they have a good goalie.
The Tigers seniors will be looking to come full circle. As freshmen they went to the ECAC Final Four and the NCAA quarterfinals and they would like to do that again, said Kampersal.
We have to be strong on the break out and stay out of the box. We need to make good shots and get it out of our defensive end in a hurry.
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